Last week, hundreds of WCRJ members and allies came together to participate in the Safety and Liberation Week of Action. By committing to a series of daily mobilizations, WCRJ’s broad base of individual supporters demonstrated the collective power of our community. United behind a shared vision of Black Liberation, we amplified our demands to end anti-Black systems of police abuse and mass incarceration and reinvest public dollars in programs that promote safety, equity, and opportunity for all.
We kicked off the week by convening WCRJ leaders, local residents, and elected officials - including Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx - for our annual Forum for Safety and Liberation. Through this virtual event, which reached more than two thousand online viewers, WCRJ invited the community to reimagine what true neighborhood safety could look like, free of racialized police terror.
Later in the week, hundreds of local community members took part in WCRJ's online advocacy actions and social media campaigns. In total, we mobilized 225 tweets and 8,963 emails to state and local lawmakers, demanding their support on legislation that would dismantle the racialized police and prison state, and promote a more equitable and humane system of public investment.
On Friday, we mounted a powerful direct action at City Hall, calling on Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago City Council to adopt WCRJ’s proposal for equitable public safety reinvestment.
We extend our deep gratitude to all of our supporters who stood with us throughout the week of action. Your solidarity and commitment is essential to achieving our collective vision of universal safety and liberation.
To stay updated on WCRJ's organizing and policy campaigns, follow is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information about the week of action, please contact us directly.
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
This year, as the historic mass uprising for Black Liberation commands national attention, the occasion of Juneteenth assumes a particularly momentous significance. As we honor the determination, sacrifice, and vision set forth by Black freedom fighters of generations past, we are also mindful of the tremendous work that lies ahead in the struggle for true emancipation from the tyranny of white supremacy.
To commemorate the spirit of Juneteenth, the Workers Center for Racial Justice has released a policy platform for Safety and Liberation.
For nearly a decade, WCRJ has invited local community members impacted by racialized police violence to come together and collectively reimagine what real public safety could look like in our own neighborhoods, on our own terms. These powerful conversations have served as the foundation for WCRJ's Safety and Liberation platform, through which we aim to amplify grassroots demands to end anti-Black police brutality and reinvest public resources in systems that foster universal equity and justice.
Take a minute to help advance WCRJ’s policy platform by urging immediate action from Chicago lawmakers.
WCRJ’s platform for Safety and Liberation advocates the following state and city level policies:
Withdraw taxpayer funding from the Chicago Police Department and equitably invest in more effective public safety services. Significantly scale back operational spending on local law enforcement and reduce the police force commensurately. Replace dispatch officers with on-call city professionals - including social workers, mental health providers, human services employees, and mediators - who are better equipped to address public safety emergencies. Abolish private policing agencies.
Prohibit police unions from engaging in any collective bargaining activities outside of wage and benefit negotiations. Police union contracts have historically shielded officers from accountability for their actions, even in cases of racialized harassment, brutality, and murder. Such agreements serve as a driving force of police violence, by emboldening officers to exceed the limits of their power with the explicit assurance of impunity.
Establish a democratically elected police board to govern the Chicago Police Department. This entity will hold the exclusive authority to hire senior officers, investigate reports of police misconduct, discipline and terminate officers who are found guilty of wrongdoing, and determine department budgets and rules.
Take 30 seconds to send a prewritten email to Mayor Lightfoot and every member of the Chicago City Council, urging their swift adoption of these critical policy measures.
To stay updated on our policy campaigns, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Please contact us directly with any questions or for more information about our platform for Safety and Liberation.
Even as we confront the challenges of a global pandemic and the practical limitations imposed by social distancing practices, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) has persevered in our mission to leverage the collective power of Black workers in the struggle for equity and justice in the labor system. Yesterday WCRJ celebrated a tremendous victory in this fight when our comrades at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School filed for their union.
Securing a majority of mental health counselors' support and signatures was no small feat, especially under the statewide shelter-in-place orders. WCRJ began organizing workers at the Orthogenic School after many employees witnessed significant cuts in their hours and felt coerced into not filing for unemployment amidst COVID-19 shutdowns. In partnership with Raise the Floor Alliance and attorney Celeste Ntuen, WCRJ held a virtual know-your-rights training, highlighting the recent changes to unemployment benefits, which kickstarted the union organizing drive.
These caring, passionate, and skilled workers are the engine that keeps the Orthogenic School running, but all too often, they face unjust working conditions and constraints on their ability to provide adequate treatment to clients. Employees of the Orthogenic School are seeking the power to negotiate equitably, believing that collective bargaining ensures more fair labor conditions for all workers.
Now under the representation of AFSCME, Orthogenic School counselors ask that the Leslie Shankman School Corporation board and management respect their right to form a union free from intimidation, coercion, or management interference. WCRJ stands with these workers in urging Orthogenic School management not to waste resources by engaging high-cost anti-labor lawyers, using paid work time to hold anti-union meetings, or distributing propaganda that undermines workers' organizing efforts.
In the weeks to come, WCRJ will continue to work in solidarity with counselors at the Orthogenic School, offering guidance and organizing assistance as they pursue full unionization. To stay updated on WCRJ's workers rights campaigns, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Please contact us directly with questions or for more information about our organizing work.